Enterprise Software

XP's Tweak UI tool gives users more options

Windows' Tweak UI PowerToy makes it simple to modify dozens of XP's functions. Explore the Internet Explorer, Command Prompt, Logon, and Repair branches of this tool.

Tweak UI is a time-saver that can help consultants who perform troubleshooting or desktop support quickly provide service to users. Besides adding an improved look, Tweak UI for Microsoft Windows XP has made it easier for consultants who work at the tactical level to work with users. Here’s a look at the Internet Explorer, Command Prompt, Logon, and Repair branches of this tool.

Last of four articles
Other articles in this series have focused on the Desktop, My Computer, and Control Panel branches, the About, General, and Mouse branches, and the Explorer branch of the Tweak UI tool.

The Internet Explorer branch
On the main page of the Internet Explorer branch, shown in Figure A, you can choose to activate the custom background feature for the toolbars in both Windows Explorer and Internet Explorer (IE). In other words, you can skin the toolbars of Windows Explorer and IE. To do so, select the appropriate check box, click the Change button, and choose a .bmp file to use as the background image.

Figure A

IE’s Address Bar contains a built-in search feature. To use it, simply type a keyword in the Address Bar and press [Enter]. IE passes the keyword over to the MSN search engine, which then displays the results.

If you want to expand your Address Bar search capabilities, investigate the Search page. Here, you can specify various search engine shortcuts for searching from IE’s Address Bar. You’ll use the controls found on this page to create a search engine prefix and specify the URL to a search engine. You can then instantly launch a search of that particular search engine by typing the specified prefix followed by a keyword.

View Source
When you pull down the View menu in IE and select the Source command, Notepad launches and displays the HTML code that created the page. On the View Source page, you can specify an alternate HTML editor to assign to IE’s Source command.

The Command Prompt branch
The Command Prompt branch contains one page that allows you to alter one of Windows XP’s new command-line features (see Figure B).

Figure B

In the Completion panel on the main page, you can change the shortcut keys used to activate filename and directory completion quick search features for the Windows XP command prompt. By default, the shortcut key for both is the [Tab] key. This shortcut makes it easy for you to locate files and directories when working from a command prompt.

For example, if you’re working in the Windows directory and want to locate a file or directory whose name begins with the characters Sy, just type those characters and press [Tab] repeatedly. Each time you press [Tab], each file or directory name that begins with those characters will be displayed on the command line. If you type CD Sy and press [Tab] repeatedly, you’ll only see those directory names that begin with those two characters.

In the Editing panel, you can alter the character that is considered a word separator when you press either [Ctrl]Left Arrow or [Ctrl]Right Arrow to advance between words on the command line. Of course, the default word separator is the space character, which is fine in most circumstances. If you want to use another character, you can specify it here.

The Logon branch
The Logon branch contains two items. On the main page, you’ll find a check box that allows you to determine whether the Autoexec.bat file is run at logon (see Figure C).

Figure C

Keep in mind that the only Autoexec.bat commands that will be processed are the Set commands used to establish environment variables.

If multiple users are sharing a Windows XP system and you’re the administrator, you can also choose which account names will be displayed on the Welcome screen to your users. Keep in mind that when you choose not to have an account name displayed on the Welcome screen, the user with the account you’re choosing not to display will still be able to log on to the system.

If you’re a single user on a Windows XP system, you'll discover that the Autologon page allows you to configure XP to automatically fill the logon dialog box that you see each time you start your system. Just select the Log On Automatically At System Startup check box. Then, type your username, domain or computer name, and password in the appropriate text boxes.

The Repair branch
The options found on the Repair branch are handy troubleshooting tools that can allow you to easily fix a number of common problems (see Figure D). Click the drop-down list to see a list of actions that the Repair tool can perform. After you select an item from the list, you just click the Repair Now button to restore that item.

Figure D

The first item on the list is Repair Icons. To improve performance when loading icons into the user interface, Windows XP keeps track of all the icons currently in use in a special cache file. If this file becomes corrupted, the icons used in the user interface will become scrambled. For example, you or your users may discover that your icons are all black or have mysteriously changed. You can quickly set things straight by choosing Rebuild Icons.

The second item on the list is Repair Font Folder. As you know, the Fonts folder contains several settings, such as List Fonts By Similarity and Hide Variations, that let you modify the way you view the fonts installed on your system. If you or your users ever discover that these settings aren’t working, you can use the Repair Font Folder tool to remedy the problem.

The next three items on the list are Repair My Music Icon, Repair My Pictures Icon, and Repair My Video Icon. If you or your users discover that the custom icons for these special folders have reverted to normal icons, you can use these commands to quickly restore the custom icons for these special folders.

The sixth item on the list is Repair Regedit. If you regularly hack into Windows XP’s registry to make changes with the Registry Editor, you’ve probably altered the editor’s View settings to your liking. Maybe you’ve moved the Split bar or resized the columns. Repair Regedit returns the Registry Editor to its default View settings.

The final item on the list is the Repair Unread Mail Count. If you or your users discover that the Welcome screen is displaying an incorrect number of unread e-mail messages, you can synchronize the unread mail count by selecting this item and clicking the Repair Now button.

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Greg Shultz is a freelance Technical Writer. Previously, he has worked as Documentation Specialist in the software industry, a Technical Support Specialist in educational industry, and a Technical Journalist in the computer publishing industry.

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